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NEWS11 June 2014

Rise in mobile apps means business must rethink personal data collection

News UK

UK — As digital business grows and the demarcation between physical and digital worlds blurs, consumer-centric mobile apps will become more important to business.

Gartner predicts that by next year most mobile apps will sync, collect and analyse data about users. But it cautions that most IT leaders are failing to consider the deep impact that mobile apps have on their information infrastructure. 

And with the uptake of wearable devices the analyst also forecasts that by 2017, these devices will be behind 50% of app interactions. This includes desktop-based app interactions and mobile apps, with mobile apps making up the majority. 

Currently, most apps have been developed to support specific business-to-consumer interactions. For example, some use location data to offer contextually relevant information, while some also collect other information about their users — such as gender and age group — to further refine the interaction. 

Roxane Edjlali, research director at Gartner, said: “Personal data is often collected solely in support of a mobile app’s requirements and not considered an asset within an organisation’s overall information infrastructure. Consequently, although this data is accessed and potentially stored in support of an app, it is not managed as a full ‘citizen’ of an enterprise’s information infrastructure.” 

The issue of how consumer data is used is particularly relevant within this context. “Even if personal or biometric data is anonymous, it could have a major impact on a person’s ability to get adequate health insurance, if they are identified as belonging to a risk category,” said Edjlali. “In addition, mobile apps that use third parties for authentication deliver data on customer behaviour to those third parties.”  

Gartner recommends that organisations should: manage the persistency and perishability of data collected from mobile apps; monitor access to and control of this data and control the sharing and reuse of mobile app data for other purposes. 

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